Animal Extras: Fermented Little Auks

I know, Jake and Matt. I realize that I often like to quote “facts” that aren’t always “true” on the podcast and that this behavior tends to make you guys skeptical of nearly everything I say.


On the last penguin-centric podcast, I noted that fermented bird meals were taking place in the Arctic and I actually was not bullshitting at all. The birds are indeed called “Little Auks” and they are indeed caught en masse and stuffed into pouches (made of thick seal skin) and fermented to make a delicacy called Kiviaq.

I can’t find the clip from the 3rd episode of Human Planet where they’re catching the Little Auks and eating them so I made this to help you readers understand the process. (UPDATE: found the clip!)

Although they’re not that closely related to penguins, auks of various sizes do look, walk, swim, and live a lot like penguins. So, one has to assume that they probably taste similar as well..? I have to think there are people out there who have had both penguin and Little Auk – the list of Arctic and Antarctic researchers/explorers seems to overlap. So, what are we missing out on?

Perhaps a blog-montage of meat descriptions can help your tongue’s imagination piece together a colorful culinary collage of savory, blubbery flavors.

Penguin or Little Auk?

“It tasted like a cross between liquorice and the strongest cheese I’ve ever had.”

“If it’s possible to imagine a piece of beef, odiferous cod fish and a canvas-backed duck roasted together in a pot, with blood and cod-liver oil for sauce, the illustration would be complete”

For those too lazy to click, the first quote is a foreigner’s impression of Greenlandic Kiviaq. Sounds frickin awful honestly. The second is an explorer’s take on penguin meat. While that crew pretty much hated the meat, it would seem other adventurers actually enjoyed it.

Excerpt from The Antarctic Dicionary under “penguin breast, meat or steak”

Now you can’t eat  penguins anymore what with all of them being endangered. But isn’t it good to know that,  just like any other meat, the flavor relies greatly on the creativity of the cook? Also, butter. Everyone knows that butter enhances everything. Probably even Little Auks.


3 comments on “Animal Extras: Fermented Little Auks

  1. Pingback: How to Get Rid of a Whale Carcass | Animal News, The Podcast

  2. Yes – I tasted kiviaq for the first time in the summer 2013 – I ate a whole bird including the inside of the bird … I think the “tasting note” of a mixture of liquorice and strong cheese is very close!
    Let’s just say that I don’t have to taste this Greenland next time I visit the northern part of Greenland!
    Find images here:

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